Summer biz scholars 2015 This month, Collat School of Business student scholars are collaborating with area high school students on a research project to analyze possible solutions for economic and social disparities within Birmingham.

The Business Student Scholars Program, now in its fifth year, will focus on developing a strategic plan for the revitalization of the historic 6th District of Birmingham, including neighborhoods such as Glen Iris, Arlington-West End, Woodland Park and Five Points South.

In 2014, students involved in the program partnered with Birmingham City School System students to evaluate the 6th District’s overall well-being, ranging from education and crime prevention to housing and health disparities.

This year, a different group of students are continuing to study opportunities to improve the 6th district, with a particular focus on partnering with Birmingham Land Bank Authority and Habitat for Humanity to improve housing conditions and availability within the district.

The students also are researching opportunities to participate in My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative created by President Barack Obama “to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential,” according to a White House brief.

Collat management professor Nathan Oliver, who has organized and advised the Business Student Scholars Program all five years, said the students are dedicated to Birmingham’s improvement.

"This is an incredible opportunity for these students to gain real-world experience that makes a difference," he said.

Collat’s Business Student Scholars Program is a service-learning program that enables students to implement business knowledge outside the classroom while mentoring local high school students. It is one of the ways Collat students can satisfy the new experiential learning curriculum requirement. Other options include internships, research assistance, study away experiences and honors college projects.

"These students will take the lessons and skills learned during this service-learning project and be able to build on them throughout their academic careers," Oliver said.

The students are gathering research from archives, field trips and interviews to develop recommendations on ways the district can improve its housing. The recommendations will be delivered to key stakeholders through a report and presentation.